Thursday deals: a Dell XPS 13 with a Core i7-8550U for $850 and more

Good afternoon, dear gerbils and gerbilettes. I bet your credit cards are already smoking hot and worn from all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday activity. But we know that a PC enthusiast's quest for hardware never ends, and no matter how many sale days there are in a year, they're never enough. The quest goes on. Let's see what we have in store for today.

  • Rather atypically, we're leading with a fancy laptop. The Dell XPS 13 ultrabook is svelte, sleek, and acclaimed by reviewers everywhere. The version we have today packs an eighth-generation Core i7-8550U CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB solid-state drive. You can get it for a stupid-low $849.99 from Rakuten if you use the DELL150X coupon. You'll need to have a registered account at Rakuten. Then, you can enter the coupon on step 2 (payment) of the checkout process.

  • 'Tis finally the time to get back on the SSD-buying bandwagon. The Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB SSD is one of the best SATA drives around and can be had for $269.99 at Newegg with the promo code EMCBBDR59, only marginally higher than the lowest price it's been in the past year. Get'em while they're hot.

  • If you prefer your storage of the "massive" variety, we have available options. The Seagate Expansion 8 TB external hard drive is capacious, simple, and you can get one for an absurd $149.99 from Newegg with the code EMCBBCK25. Let us do the math: that's $18.75 per terabyte. Holy moly.

  • You may be the type that prefers their hard drives faster and inside a computer. Should that be the case, take a look at this two-pack of 4 TB HGST DeskStar NAS hard drives. They're seriously fast, just begging to be part of a RAID-1 setup, and you can get them for $199.98 for the pair at Newegg. The per-terabyte price is $25.

  • Last but not least, the sale is still on for Seasonic's Focus Plus 750W power supply. This 80 Plus Gold unit has semi-passive cooling, fully-modular cables (and a generous selection of them, too), and is currently going for only $79.90 at Newegg. There's a $15 rebate card available that can snip that price down to $64.90.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at the Microsoft Store and Das Keyboard's shop.

Comments closed
    • Ummagumma
    • 2 years ago

    “…take a look at this two-pack of 4 TB HGST DeskStar NAS hard drives…”

    Methinks not. I remember those old infamous “Deathstar” drives all too well.

    If I were to buy a HGST HDD it would have to be an “Ultrastar” drive.

    Based on my own observations, the “Ultrastar” family has had a better long-term track record compared to the “Deskstar” family.

    I also avoid Seagate drives because of way too many bad experiences with them. They may QC fine at the factory, but their reliability in daily use has proven to me to be highly suspect.

      • MOSFET
      • 2 years ago

      In my opinion, you’re observing too long-term of a track record. HGST is somewhat of a gold-standard for NAS drives.

      • crabjokeman
      • 2 years ago

      You should avoid Ford cars. I remember those infamous Pinto cars that blew up when rear-ended.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 2 years ago

      And now HGST is the most reliable drive manufacturer on the market.

      And before that period of time, they were one of the fastest and most reliable too.
      And the HGST occurred after they merged and weren’t really the same company any more.
      You should probably come out of your cave and read once in awhile. Backblaze actually prefers HGST because they have the lowest failure rate. I’ve been running four 3GB HGST NAS drives in RAID-5 on my server for a year and a half now, and they’re excellent. If I could have gotten these prices on 4TB models back then I would have, and I’d have a RAID-10 instead.

        • Ummagumma
        • 2 years ago

        I have read the Backblaze reports. The 4TB drives in their Q3-2017 report are Deskstars. The 6TB drive in the report is an Ultrastar, but it does not have many “drive days” on it compared to the Deskstars.

        Keep in mind that Backblaze chassis are built quite sturdy compared to consumer grade enclosures which seem to emphasize “aesthetics and ease of use” with plastic cases and dubious airflow; the old Netgear RV series was a pleasant exception to that observation. The Backblaze blog has documented physical issues in an older chassis design could cause vibration problems for drives, so they redesigned it. The newer chassis have quite rigid drive mountings, allowing them to use consumer grade and “schucked” drives in their chassis. Their own cost benefit analysis shows their designs can use lower cost drives with great success rather than enterprise class drives. Clean power, proper operating environment (clean rooms with good air flow), solid mountings are not common to home, SMB, and sometimes enterprise installations, but those factors all make a big difference in lifetime expectancies of hard drives.

        I prefer Ultrastar, WDC Red Pro, and WDC Purple NV drives in “high drive count” enclosures and systems that run 24×7. Those drives were designed for that use. I use enclosures like that at home since I do not have the WAF (“wife acceptance factor”) to deal with; some of you might not be in that situation, or prefer “aesthetics and ease of use” over the “industrial” look.

        A drive like a Deskstar (the 4TB drives in their list) is probably fine for low drive count enclosures yet suitable for 24×7 usage. It’s difficult to determine if HGST has designed these drives for “high drive count” enclosures. I don’t have the time to experiment nor the inclination to attempt to coax an “on the record” answer out of HGST.

        Drives designed for “high drive count” enclosures tend to have at least 1 and preferably 2 (or more?) RV sensors to detect rotational vibration issues so the drive firmware can correct operations if possible. You pay for that, and you get what you pay for, like NAS quality firmware over “desktop use” (WDC Greens, Blues, Blacks) firmware for RAID drives (remember TLER?).

        Experience has shown me that a conservative approach to systems engineering results in systems that can easily operate 24×7 well beyond their warranty and “expected use” lifetimes. Think of it as using the right tool for the job. The newer Seagates might be better than their past, but that means spending years developing an “experience track record” on which Seagates hold up in my designs and which fail. I would rather not spend my time doing that when I have 2 brands, albeit the same company, that meet my needs and have proven themselves over 10 years of use.

        YMMV

    • Convert
    • 2 years ago

    My experience with the XPS: We’ve been through 4 Intel 7th gen XPS 13 laptops and a Intel 8th gen XPS 13 version. They have all had exceedingly loud coil whine and the new 8th gen’s touch pad rattles when you move your finger over it.

    The coil whine is super annoying. If it doesn’t bother you then they are good laptops. The 8th gen’s rattling touch pad made it unusable for me, but I’m sure most could learn to ignore it.

      • mudcore
      • 2 years ago

      Strange they’d screw up the touchpad for what is a very mild refresh. The coil whine issues are one of the big reasons I’m waiting on the next generation chassis. That plus more PCIe lanes available via the Thunderbolt port.

        • Convert
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah, I couldn’t believe it.

        Likely just a quality issue, I can’t image they did any tweaks other than allowing the 8th gen CPU.

        • DancinJack
        • 2 years ago

        It’s surely not an issue present on ALL of them coming off the line. I’d put a lot of money on it being a QC issue that just got missed on some.

      • Goty
      • 2 years ago

      The touchpad is one of the things I like least about the XPS 13 (the Envy x360 being discussed in the Raven Ridge articles has a really great one, actually), but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. The models I’ve played with, all store models, haven’t displayed any sort of rattle, though, so maybe you just got a bum unit.

    • mudcore
    • 2 years ago

    Dell is introducing a completely new chassis for the XPS 13 in early 2018. That price is decent but I’d advise anyone who isn’t extremely price sensitive and in need right away to wait.

      • Voldenuit
      • 2 years ago

      They will relocate the webcam to the palmrest for Ultimate Nostrilcam.

        • mudcore
        • 2 years ago

        Thankfully it appears it won’t get much worse but it also isn’t getting better: [url<]https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/10/6/16434992/dell-xps-13-model-ces-2018-ultrabook[/url<]

          • ludi
          • 2 years ago

          Death to bezels…or something.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 2 years ago

          Good gravy. It looks like a pre-unibody MacBook.

            • mudcore
            • 2 years ago

            I’m not crazy about most all aluminum laptops personally. I downright thought the whole world had gone made with the praise the first few generations of unibody Macbooks got. I still think it was only because Macbook users dealt with rapid discoloration and plastic bits chipping prior to that. But the sharp edges (especially the lip below the touchpad), propensity to gather small dings and scratches, and wonderful heat transfer directly to your palms were all bad. But hey, it looked sterile and uninspiring and that’s what people love about Apple (sorry, now I’m just being rude).

            The article describes the next gen XPS 13 material being a woven glass fiber. I just hope it comes in colors besides all white. I’d never in a million years own an all white laptop.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 2 years ago

            I don’t care so much about material but a white laptop is begging for discoloration and dirt

        • UberGerbil
        • 2 years ago

        I guess it’s good if they fix that for the people who care, but honestly I can’t believe so many people make such a big deal out of that, or of selfie cameras in general. One of my monitors has a built-in webcam and I used it once, to see if it worked, and then put a piece of tape over it. I just don’t get it; it’s not like you’re going to be holding this laptop out at arm’s length for selfie photos. I don’t want to see people on Skype calls, and I certainly don’t want them to see me. It doesn’t add anything. I guess maybe if I was still in a long-distance relationship it might enhance sexy calls or something, but otherwise — what’s the big deal?

          • oldog
          • 2 years ago

          Well I for one heartily agree. My XPS 13 is (mostly) great. Shucks, I didn’t even know it had a webcam.

          P.S. – You must be a really old guy too.

          P.P.S. – The track-pad is very finicky with Chrome (scaling issues???) Buyer beware.

    • dragontamer5788
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve seen that Seagate 8TB model around that price before. Does anyone know if its shingled (SMR) or PMR?

    I bet its shingled at that price. That’s all.

      • Bauxite
      • 2 years ago

      SMR is the devil.

      Shuckers go for the 8TB easystores – always helium PMR, Red internals. Might have a white sticker and 3.3v sense but still not the devil. Been as low as $130 on some fast deals.

      • Waco
      • 2 years ago

      It’s probably SMR, but they’re better in normal use (especially with external enclosures) than many tech enthusiasts realize.

      /manages 8,000 of them

        • morphine
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah, I don’t get all the hate either. Nobody’s going to use an HDD as a system drive anymore, it’s just there for mass storage purposes, write little, read a lot at best.

        • tu2thepoo
        • 2 years ago

        I posted this before, but the cheap Seagate USB SMR drives have a quirk where the USB3.0-SATA bridge limits transfer speeds to ~30mB/sec – I think to avoid saturating the onboard cache. I took my 8tb Expansion out of its case and connected directly to internal SATA, and it’ll transfer at 150-200 mB/sec for about 15-20gb before bottoming out and transferring in spurts (80-100 mB/sec for a few seconds, then 0, repeat).

        It’s a quirk most people will only run into if they’re doing a massive initial backup, but it’s something an enthusiast might want to know. For incremental backups or read-heavy workloads it’s a nonissue.

          • Waco
          • 2 years ago

          Yep. You’ll get 40 MB/s or so if you hammer it with writes constantly (sequential writes). Random IO can really tank them, but only if you saturate the PMR cache (which is tens of GB).

        • hans
        • 2 years ago

        They work fine with regular filesystems now, no need for managing zones. SMR with ext4 is great for a media center movie drive, maybe less so for TV episodes were you delete more frequently. Any use case where the writes are mostly sequential without much deleting should fit.

        /manages ~3000 of them with 2 at home

    • Goty
    • 2 years ago

    Grrr… I really need a new laptop and the XPS 13 is on my short list, but I haven’t saved up the full cost yet even at that price! (Damn fiscal responsibility…)

      • Shobai
      • 2 years ago

      That’s the spirit! Remember, “if it’s good enough for the government, it’s good enough for me!”

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